A former State Department contractor accused of leaking classified information to Fox News pleaded guilty Friday to a single count as part of a plea deal with the government.
Stephen Kim was accused of leaking a CIA analysis about North Korea to Fox News reporter James Rosen. The analysis detailed warnings from intelligence officials that North Korea would likely respond to increased sanctions with nuclear tests.
If a judge approves the plea deal, Kim will be sentenced on April 2. He is facing 13 months in prison and a year of supervised release under the plea deal.
Kim was indicted in 2010 under the Espionage Act and had faced 15 years in prison if convicted.
It was subsequently revealed that during the investigation into Kim’s leak, the Justice Department monitored Rosen as well and classified him as a co-conspirator in order to obtain a search warrant for him.
Attorney General Eric Holder has maintained he had no intent to charge Rosen. But the disclosure last year helped prompt the Justice Department to change its rules on obtaining journalists’ records.
As part of the plea announced Friday, Kim admitted to not being a whistle-blower by exposing government waste, fraud or abuse. He also admitted that his disclosure could have harmed national security.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen said the government will not waiver in its commitment to pursue leak cases. The administration has previously been accused of launching an unprecedented number of cases to stop government disclosures.
“As this prosecution demonstrates, we will not waver in our commitment to pursuing and holding accountable government officials who blatantly disregard their obligations to protect our nation’s most highly guarded secrets,” Machen said.